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Mary Polk Branch
Memoirs of a Southern Woman "Within the Lines," and a Genealogical Record
Chicago: The Joseph G. Branch Publishing Co., c1912.


Mary Jones Polk, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. William Julius Polk, was born into one of the most prominent families in Tennessee. Several of her uncles served the Episcopal Church, including one who became the bishop of Louisiana. Her cousin, James K. Polk, was elected President of the United States in 1849. She married Colonel Joseph Branch, the son of Florida's Governor Branch, in 1859. She was his second wife, and they lived together on a plantation in Arkansas that he had acquired in partnership with his father.

Memoirs of a Southern Woman "Within the Lines" with a Genealogical Record (1912) is Branch's autobiography and was published by her grandson's publishing company. She describes her childhood, her marriage, and social activities in the antebellum South. When the Civil War erupted, Branch's family became deeply involved: her uncles, cousins, and brothers all held leadership positions in the Confederate army. She goes on to describe the conditions of the South immediately following the war, praising the "kukluxers" for filling the need for order in the South during Reconstruction. The final pages of her narrative provide her genealogy.

Harris Henderson

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